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Design And Flight Testing Of An In Flight Deployable Parachute System For A Small Unmanned Aerial System (Suas)

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

DEED Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.411.1 - 14.411.8



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Paper Authors

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Ibibia Dabipi University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

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Christopher Hartman University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

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James B. Burrows-Mcelwain University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Design and Flight-testing of an in-flight Deployable Parachute System for a small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS).

Abstract - Students in the Freshman Spring 2008 design course were challenged to engineer a deployable parachute system for a model aircraft that could be used on a small Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) platform. The primary design requirement of the project was the need for the parachute system to be able to deploy in the event of communications malfunction, loss of control or any other critical failure that could impact the safety of persons or property on the ground. Project requirements stipulated that the design focused primarily on safe, successful recovery of the given airframe. Team members were given the opportunity to suggest alternative materials or changes in design that may yield increased performance benefits for future prototypes.

Students utilized a model Piper Cub and were able to meet the minimum design specifications articulated by the customers. The aircraft would fly with a suitable center of gravity (CG) and could manually deploy the parachute while killing power to the model aircraft’s electric motor.

This paper discusses group dynamics and leadership as applied to a freshman engineering design project solution.


One of the issues confronting learning environments is the ability to integrate diversity of approach both in teaching and learning modalities. With the freshman engineering course we have attempted to use the diverse faculty in the department which has both engineering and aviation sciences programs to structure projects related in some ways to both programs. This is done to advance engineering principles as well as proof of concept, as the case may be in its application to the aviation program.

The benefit for students is that they are able to engage the faculty both as clients and instructors that result in a variety of learning modes. For this project, the class was kept as a whole with one defined project leader who oversaw several project teams. Engineering design concepts with emphasis on various aspects of planning, developing and product design via hands-on approach was the key to this course experience. It also enhanced the students’ communication skills and teamwork. Product visualization utilizing computer software such as word processing, power point, and spreadsheet enhanced the students’ ability to collaborate in defining, developing, and designing a working prototype. Students learned the components of product development such as brainstorming, time allocation, project management, alternative designs, and cost constraints.

Students engaged in team work in a multidisciplinary team environment such that the reality of cooperation in a global economy became a lesson realized early in their

Dabipi, I., & Hartman, C., & Burrows-Mcelwain, J. B. (2009, June), Design And Flight Testing Of An In Flight Deployable Parachute System For A Small Unmanned Aerial System (Suas) Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4721

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